A decorated campground

I’ve been camping all of my life. My parents took me to church camp when I was only a few weeks old. Our family went camping every summer of my life. In a way we lived a camp lifestyle after my parents purchased a piece of property where we spent our summers. It wasn’t fancy and we often cooked outdoors over the campfire. When we got married, we camped under a tarp for a few years until we saved up for a tent. That tent served our family well. When our children were teenagers, we obtained a used pop up trailer. When they were through college we got a used pickup camper. Now we have a bumper pull trailer that we really enjoy.

Still, I think of camping as a summer activity. I knew we were stretching the season a bit to plan this trip at the end of October and our original plan was to leave the camper in storage and travel with our car, staying a couple of nights in motels and sleeping at our daughter’s home. However, weather forecasts were good, so we decided to get in one last camping trip before winterizing the camper.

We aren’t the only ones thinking this way. Last night the campground filled up. There are still a few empty campsites, but a lot more people joined us for the weekend. The campground officially closes on Monday, the last day of October, so this is the last weekend for this campground. We might chalk it up to an unusual year, which is the way I was thinking about it. We could also explain it by remembering that we are considerably south of our usual territory. It is a bit warmer her in Missouri than it is at home, though after a chilly and rainy day today, it is supposed to warm up in Rapid City for the rest of the week, with highs in the 70’s.

Given the weather and the situation, it isn’t surprising that people want to get in one last camping trip before winter. More surprising for me, however, is the number of campers who have decorated their campsites for Halloween. Thought the campground there are orange lights, pumpkins, mannequins in costumes, skeletons, ghosts, and a variety of other decorations.

It has never occurred to me to decorate my camper for any holiday.

Then again we don’t decorate our home for Halloween, either. We might put out a pumpkin and sometimes we carve one into a jack-o-lantern, but beyond that, Halloween isn’t much about decorations for us. We aren’t into doing a lot of exterior decorating in the first place.

I read that Halloween is big in terms of retail sales for yard decorations, lights and other items. I understand that candy sales are up. We enjoy the stream of trick-or-treaters and we like to have something to give them. We’ve tried to avoid the sweetest candy treats because we think that too much of a good thing isn’t the best for children, but we do like to have fruit snacks and other items to give out.

I’m not sure I fully understand all of the decorations. I suppose the adrenalin rush of being scared is an attraction for some in the same way that amusement park rides and horror movies appeal. Being scared without really being in danger is a particular sensation. However, there really isn’t much that is scary about halloween decorations. The fake skeletons and ghosts don’t seem very threatening and I wouldn’t describe any of the campground decorations as frightening. Here in the campground there is a bit of “keeping up with the Jones” going on. A kind of friendly competition to be the campsite with the most decorations may be one of the motivations for loading up all of that extra gear into the car and camper before heading out.

Then again, there are plenty of campsites where the occupants are into traveling with more gear than our usual. We have a couple of folding chairs, but we don’t have an outdoor suite with carpet, recliners or an outdoor entertainment center with a bar and a big screen TV. We don’t travel with a TV at all, let alone an elaborate satellite antenna. Our camper does have a television antenna, and I raise it once a year when I am scrubbing the camper roof, but other than that, it stays stowed full time. I do have an outdoor grill that I take along sometimes when I am cooking for a large group, but it isn’t with us on this particular trip. We rarely put out our awning, and feel it is completely unnecessary here in the trees where there is plenty of natural shade. There are folks in the campground who have their awnings out to display their party lights.

There are social and cultural aspects to most forms of recreation and we certainly do enjoy camping with friends from time to time. However vacation is often a time to get a way for us. We enjoy solitude and space and don’t need to have every day be a party. We are happy to celebrate time with our daughter and son in law and are spending most days away from our camper. When we are at the camper, I’m likely to pick up a book and read as my preferred activity. I certainly don’t want to add the work of putting up and taking down decorations to my adventure.

Still, for those who find decorating to be fun, I see no harm in their activities. There is a happy mood to the campground. The children seem to be having a good time. The decorations are cheerful.

The world is changing. We certainly take more with us when we travel these days and it shouldn’t surprise us that there are others who take even more than we do. Still, it seems a bit strange to have all of the decorations.

I’m likely to keep looking for even more out-of-the ways places to visit on our travels where there are even fewer campers. It will be a challenge.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!